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I’ll eat with my fingers…

So, I got to thinking the other day about the chronically afflicted community as a whole. How some of us are “invisible”…some are “visible”…some are survivors, and some are spoons.

Wait, what?

You’ve heard the term. “Spoonie.” And more than likely used it in daily conversation, status updates or tweets with the hashtag #spoonie.

I have.

It’s the only way I can be sure that I hit up the folk and communities I want to share my posts/images/information/knowledge with.

Why the spoon? Because of “The Spoon Theory.”

Anyways, I’ve been at this for a couple of years to know that 1) it’s a bloody FRABJOUS way to explain to your friends and family about your illness or disease in a way that is both visual and easy to digest (try telling people about t-cells and lupus…and you’ll understand); and 2) it fruckin’ drives me bat-shit crazy, all at the same time.


Because people are trying to use images of little spoons on their heads, tattoos of cutlery, or hashtags in order to make their advocacy visible to the global public at large.

While this, itself, is a personal choice, it pains me to NO end when said same don’t even want to discuss, inform and/or educate others as to their afflictions. They are, in fact, NOT advocating…they’re…well…what are they doing?


So, I believe, what they’re really doing is using a symbol to attach a somewhat negative label onto themselves.

Lemme ask you this: Do you see images of little wheelchairs on people’s photos if they can’t walk? No? Does it change the rules because their “disability” is “visible?” You see ribbons, though. What’s the difference?

Perhaps because ribbons symbolize “hope”.

So, what do “spoons” symbolize, exactly?

Aren’t there too many “quotation marks” when we speak of it, in order to be politically correct and not offend the folk?

Let me put it this way…when I’ve “run out of spoons”…and I tell you so…what changes? Empathy, of course, but what logistically changes?


What benefit does it make to stick a spoon tattoo on my body, or a spoon on my head in my avatar???

(I have an awareness tattoo….it’s a ribbon.)


I don’t know. *shrug* I just don’t.

When a friend of mine, creative artist and owner of Country Rune, posted a photo of her first bracelet creation of 2013…


…I had to have it.


It was like a visibly hidden reference to everything I want to deny, and the very thing I hope to define… overcoming a devastating disease that is slowly killing my kidneys and my heart.

Is it made with spoons?

I don’t friggin’ know. It’s just the ends of silverware (and freakin’ gorgeous in real life, too, might I add…it could have been made with forks. It probably was.

I’ll never know.

I just know that when I wear it, I feel like it’s my own personal brand of “HOO-AH!” because I know what it is that it refers to…but, due to the chaos of my reality, it wouldn’t matter if I literally hung a spoon around my neck…that I continue to persevere, endure and exemplify courage as I meander through the challenges that the cosmos threw my way.

Drop the cutlery and grab your life by the kahunas in whatever way you can… tell people how the little things you did today meant oh-so-very much to you because they were so gargantuan…because you had the will and the belief that you could make it so…put the image in their head that you strive to “obtain“…not to “run out.”

I am not a spoon. A spoon is a reference of each individual piece of “whatever” it is that I do during a day.

When you stop to add up all of those “spoons”…you get the very essence of what it means to me to be…


Who am I?

I am Pattie Brynn Hultquist, your friendly neighbourhood Canadian Chronic Badass.


    • Brynn

      I appreciate each and every time someone recognizes me for the efforts I make or the successes I accomplish. On the less-than-stellar days, you are there to simply lend a hug or an encouraging thought. Nothing “limiting” in its meaning. I love that. xoxo

  1. Judith

    Not only am I a moderately disabled person who has used “spoons” on able-bodied people but I am also a craftsperson who has made “spoon” jewelery (as in ‘here is a necklace with extra spoons for you’) and I have ALWAYS, RIGHT FROM THE START, been uncomfortable with the whiney lack of cope that “spoons” signifies. I try to use ‘I’m sorry but I can’t do that’ or ‘can you give me a hand with this’ but they lack the punchy in-speak of ‘I’m out of spoons’.

    So I’ll be eating with my fingers as well and thanks. If only there was a symbol for that…..

    • Brynn

      That is a wonderful illustration of how you cope, and I thank you ten-fold for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I am saddened when I see a perceived “limitation” that people put on themselves by using the phrase, when it should not demean it’s focus as a great method of teaching others in a way they can understand. I think it (the phrasing of it, not the theory!!) “enables”…but in a negative way.

  2. Jules Shapiro

    I hear where you are coming from. I totally get this.
    Where the spoon theory was intended to explain this “thing” we live with to others, I don’t think it should be used for us to explain to our selves our way of coping with illness just how we feel. I don’t think that when the people that market Coke go to have one for themselves that they sing the jingle when they open the fridge. How we describe our pain and how we live our pain are not really the same. Creating a whole lifestyle out of a message intended to create empathy seems sad. It seems all too defeatist to me. How many spoons do you start with anyway? How do you know when you are full to know when you are out? It is so arbitrary.
    I prefer to start at the beginning, go until I feel the need to rest, then stop.
    To put on twitter or to tell another person that I am out of spoons has no meaning or value to me. For me to say “I need to take a break and get back to that later” makes so much more sense.
    More and more people are coming to me and complaining of the whiny nature of the group. All I can do is tell them that if they don’t like it, don’t use it. It has not bothered me to not use it, at least not as much as it has bothered others that I don’t.

    • Brynn

      For those unawares, Jules is probably my biggest inspiration when it comes to blogging about everything chronically afflicted!!!

      It’s a huge *SQUEEE* to me that you took the time to put in your ideas on the subject as well…I was hoping I wasn’t the only one who can see how a viable tool can be turned back on itself, which, I’m certain, was never part of the intent when Christine Miserandino wrote it…

      Too many groups are playing the Whine-1-1 game and I don’t like it. It belittles the credible work that you and I and many other advocates work hard at on a daily basis.

      Please visit: to see what Jules and her team of awesomeness are up to…it will be worth every minute of your time. 🙂

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